Title
Artist
Label
Format
Date

Songbird Riddim (Zion I Kings Riddim Series Vol. 1)
Various
I Grade Records
CD
July 22, 2013

Track list
  1. Lutan Fyah - She's Got Soul
  2. Pressure - The Rain
  3. Ras Batch - So Beautiful
  4. Danny I - I Know
  5. Glen Washington - Bumpy Ride
  6. NiyoRah - War is Not the Answer
  7. Jahdan Blakkamoore - Best in Life
  8. Midnite - A New Overstanding
  9. Jah9 - Tension
  10. Junior P - Times Ah Get Hard
  11. Misael - The Power of Love
  12. Shay - Don't Let Go
  13. Dushane - Holding onto Freedom
  14. Reemah - Jah Preserve
  15. Duane Stephenson - Call on JAH Name
  16. Tuff Lion - Birds of Praise
Rating : from 5 (excellent) to 1 (poor)
Vocals : 5 Backing : 5 Production : 5 Sound quality : 5 Sleeve : 5
'One riddim' albums are a concept that's been used in Reggae Musik for decades now. Some are redundant; some are great and a few are pure magic. The "Songbird Riddim" set is just that - pure and ital magic and mastery. The long lasting collaboration of Zion I Kings (Zion High Productions/I Grade/Lustre Kings) have once again constructed a musical backbone that exudes craftsmanship and balance second to none. The roster of artists complement the truly organic mechanics in every way possible.

The "Songbird Riddim" is the first in a series of riddim excursions from ZIK. It's a masterfully layered piece that ranks as one of the more memorable in recent times. It opens with the triumphant horn section of Balboa Becker (trombone/horn) and Daniel Casares (sax), who are known as Celebrity Hornz. There's ample peppering of Jazzy piano by Jazzique and wicked drum work from Craig Taylor. Bassie JAH David shows up hard and Tippy I kills it on keyboard duties. Lead and Riddim guitars are represented by Tuff "Ten Strings" Lion; assisted by Steve Katz. Master tradesman "Bassie" Campbell adds heartical Kette drumming. The backing vox roster includes Jhamelia Smith (Inna De Yard), Ras Batch, Ima and Jahdan. Bottom line-this all culminates into a lush and eloquent atmosphere.

The ever maturing Lutan Fyah is superb on She's Got Soul. He puts aside his usual tuff approach and delivers a poignant tribute to a real woman. Absolute versatility from an artist that's putting out the best work of his career. The Rain by Pressure Buss Pipe is a beautiful reality song that echoes true struggle and keen observation. One killer track deh!! Fresh off his "Know Thyself" gem, V.I's Ras Batch is ethereal on So Beautiful. His delivery is from the Earth; singing ises to Jah Creation. Instant rewind selection. The consummate Danny I shows up truly on I Know. There's so much emotion here; it's just amazing how the riddim seems tailor fit for his unique ode to The Most High. His best song in a long time! Glen Washington's Bumpy Ride is smooth sailing. His throaty silkiness depicting the ups/downs of Love is convincing; sticking to his successful formula. V.I's Niyorah (Purification Session-I Grade/2005-ites) is incredible on War Is Not The Answer. He effortlessly glides from gruff to silky smooth in a flash with truly conscious and poetic lyrics. Best In Life by Jahdan Blakkamoore is pure class. His authoritative demeanor reigns here and it's easy to see why he's in such demand right now. Chanter supreme!!!

Have to ask a question. Will Midnite's approach ever grow old? The answer is no!! The seasoned Vaughn Benjamin and crew are ethereal on a New Overstanding. Seems to be a slightly different mix to complement the meditation on shifting world view. Outstanding!! The ever amazing JAH9 is truly royal on Tension. She delivers a heartfelt and personal message like a true veteran and sings well beyond here years. Destined to be a Queen fe real. If you're not familiar with her; this is a great opportunity. Rising V.I star Junior P is ruff and tuff on Times Ah Get Hard. His sharp chanting style is accentuated by Bassie Campbell kette. The Power Of Love by Misael is unique fe sure. A song full of catchy hooks; this talent will mature more and more. Holding Onto Freedom by Dushane is a good track. His delivery delves into crooning and a little chanting that requires repeated listening to fully appreciate. Songstress Reemah tears it up on Jah Preserve. She sounds like a young Marcia Griffiths inna modern fashion. She holds her notes steady and has wide vocal range. The eveready Duane Stephenson is supremely humble on Call On Jah Name. One of the bossest tunes he's put down in a while; his voice has become more seasoned and there's a Tony Tuff edge to it - wicked!! Guitar maestro Tuff Lion has been part of the ZIK collaboration for years. With a style similar to Earl "Chinna" Smith; he mashes up the "Songbird Riddim". It's transformed into Birds Of Praise and brings back memories of his "Ten Strings" masterpiece from a few years ago. Beautiful mix on this yah one.

Remarkable! Incredible! Two words to describe the mastery on "Songbird Riddim". It's a riddim that somehow seems tailor fit for each artist's style and fashion. The riddim is so well constructed that the artists are all able to roam freely. This is the future of Real Reggae Musik. Great representation of established artists and fine approaches from rising talent across the board. Do not miss out on this tour-de-force. Highest recommendation!! Go deh!!